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A guide to obtaining a UK birth certificate

Legislation dictates that all births are notified within six hours and registered with the registry in which they were born within 42 days. This information is passed onto the health visitor for timely vaccination recall and is used by the Government for statistical purposes. A birth certificate is issued for free.

The law

The Public Health Act 1936 requires that the father or any person attending the birth notifies the birth to the Medical Officer within six hours. In practice, this task is performed by the attending midwife usually via a computerised notification and the mother will be given a copy of this. The purpose of registering the birth online is to provide information to the health visitor who will be taking over the child’s care at the end of the midwife’s remit. It also serves to ensure that the infant is called back for its immunisations at an appropriate time. The Government uses this information to create national statistics regarding the number of live births and deaths (even before the 24th week) in the UK. Under the Registration of Births and Deaths Act 1953, it requires that all new births (both live and still) are registered with the registrar within 42 days. The baby needs to be registered with the registrar of the district in which the child is born. Details of local registries and other useful information can be found on Maps.direct.gov.uk. Some registries ask that an appointment is made prior to attending.

Obtaining the certificate

Registration is the responsibility of the parent and if they fail to register the birth, it falls onto the owner of the property or establishment in which the birth took place i.e.: the midwife or some other person in authority. A short certificate giving the name of the child and the place of birth is issued for free. A more detailed certificate can be obtaine for a fee, including information regarding the parents. When parents are not married, the birth must be registered by the mother. The father’s name can be entered on the birth certificate if he is present at the registration. A stillborn infant must be registered prior to the burial, and this document must be signed by the attending doctor or midwife. Replacement certificates can be requested and obtained via the registry at an additional cost.

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